Seamus Heaney Poems

Early life

From Mid-Term Break Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple, He lay in the four foot box as in a cot. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year.

“ ” from "Mid-term break", Death of a Naturalist (1966)

Heaney was born on 13 April 1939, at the family farmhouse called Mossbawn,[3] between Castledawson and Toomebridge in Northern Ireland; he was the first of nine children. In 1953, his family moved to Bellaghy, a few miles away, which is now the family home. His father, Patrick Heaney (d. October 1986),[9] was the eighth child of ten born to James and Sarah Heaney.[10] Patrick was a farmer, but his real commitment was to cattle dealing, to which he was introduced by the uncles who had cared for him after the early death of his own parents.[11]

Heaney's mother, Margaret Kathleen McCann (1911–1984),[12] who bore nine children,[13] came from the McCann family.[14] Her uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill, and her aunt had worked as a maid for the mill owner's family. Heaney commented on the fact that his parentage thus contained both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution; he considered this to have been a significant tension in his background. Heaney initially attended Anahorish Primary School; when he was twelve years old, he won a scholarship to St. Columb's College, a Roman Catholic boarding school situated in Derry. Heaney's brother, Christopher, was killed in a road accident at the age of four while Heaney was studying at St. Columb's. The poems "Mid-Term Break" and "The Blackbird of Glanmore" focus on his brother's death.[15]


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